Monday, February 20, 2012

These "folk" ROCKED.

Micah, Connie, Rebecca, and Shane--no nerves here!
Congratulations to MFA students Micah Holmes, Connie Pan, Shane Stricker, and Rebecca Thomas, who put together an amazing group of presentations for a panel at the 5th annual Ohio State University/Indiana University folklore graduate student conference on February 18th.

The four were students in a special topics course on Folklore Histories, Theories, and Methodologies last spring, for which each wrote a creative project based on their own ethnographic fieldwork.  After the class, they revised their final projects into conference-length presentations that combined an overview of their projects' theoretical framework with an excerpt from the creative work. 

Micah's presentation, titled "A Coal Miner’s Son: Family Folklore As a Catalyst For Creative Writing and for the Formation and Modification of Personal Identity," was based on a nonfiction essay he wrote for the class that focused on stories about his father's 37-year career as a miner, many of which Micah had never heard before doing his fieldwork. 

Connie presented part of a short story she wrote for the class about her grandfather almost catching a mermaid one night while fishing.  In her presentation, titled "Talkin' Story: Just When I Thought I Was Nothing Like My Family," she discussed the ways that new understandings about folk belief influenced her choices about point of view and characterization.

Shane similarly focused on supernatural family folklore in his presentation, "A Cautionary Tale," which explored the ethical dilemma he faced in translating a very personal and rather disturbing family story into a piece of fiction.  He then read an excerpt from the climactic ending of the short story he wrote for the class.

Rebecca, on the other hand, talked about how she discovered she couldn't turn her grandmother's stories about growing up during World War II into fiction, but instead had to use the medium of creative nonfiction to do justice to her collected materials.  Her presentation was titled "'The Option to ‘Be Like a Guy or Something': Familial Oral History about Gender, Education, and Employment."

A colleague from Ohio State told me afterward that our students' presentations were the best prepared and best delivered of of all the panels he saw over the two days of the conference.  Kudos to these four for doing such a great job! 

Enjoying some well-deserved downtime with the awesome gold Impala after the conference.


  1. And kudos to Rosemary! Sounds like a great class, great students, great presentations... and, last but certainly not least, a great professor too. Just one question: did the grad students stay at your mom's house?

  2. Yes, they *did* stay at my mom's house...and she grilled each of them about their papers over breakfast. To their great credit, they managed cheerier and more complete answers than *I* usually do at 8 a.m. :)